This article from The Guardian provides some fantastic graphics to illustrate the issue of food waste. Where does food waste occur – at what part of the chain? Well in North America and Oceania it’s predominantly in consumption – you could study ag and get involved in marketing, sending messages to consumers on how to use and store their products. Latin America has huge losses at the agricultural production end of the scale, farmers work hard enough as it is and huge amounts of their produce is being wasted on the farm, study ag and help them! Sub-Saharan Africa has huge post harvest losses, study ag and help improve cold chains, logistics and transportation.
There are so many opportunities in ag to address just this one issue, it is a big one!
Each year 1.3bn tonnes of food, about a third of all that is produced, is wasted, including about 45% of all fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat.
About 1.4bn hectares, or close to 30% of available agricultural land, is used to grow or farm food that is subsequently wasted. This is particularly alarming given estimates that by 2050 food production will need to have increased by 60% on 2005 levels to feed a growing global population. Reducing food wastage would ease the burden on resources as the world attempts to meet future demand.
In developing countries there are high levels of what is known as “food loss”, which is unintentional wastage, often due to poor equipment, transportation and infrastructure. In wealthy countries, there are low levels of unintentional losses but high levels of “food waste”, which involves food being thrown away by consumers because they have purchased too much, or by retailers who reject food because of exacting aesthetic standards.